Wednesday, July 29, 2015

5 Scams to Look Out for in Singapore (Guest Post)

Singapore is the financial hub of Asia, which just means we have too many financial products. At some point, even the experts struggle to tell between the real thing and the scams. Then you have the “grey area” products, which are not so much scams (some of them are sort of legal), but are just bad deals. 

Here’s some to look out for:

1. The Funding Scam
Whenever you see the word funding, be on your guard. There’s a reason why funding is used in place of investment. 

The simple reason is that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) sets stringent standards on investment products, and the easiest way to bypass those checks is to use alternative terms like funding. So in many cases, funding is just a code word for “unregulated financial product.”

The word funding can be applied to almost anything--gold funding, startup funding, or funding diamond mines. And while some of these are legitimate, just as many are outright scams. 

The standard approach is to promise you monthly returns for an upfront payment. For example: Put S$10,000 into a mining fund, and you will get S$800 a month for 24 months. 

The trick however, is in the contract. 

Many scammers include clauses that absolve them of having to pay in the event of accidents. So three months into funding your diamond mine, you may get a notice that a foreign government has shut down the mine for environmental reasons, and you will not be getting any more payouts. The rest of your upfront payment is also gone, as per the contract. And by the time you receive notice, the company involved would probably have declared bankruptcy and folded.

At that point, would it matter if you were being told the truth? Either way your money is lost.

2. The Late Fee Scam
This is a favourite tactic among unethical money lenders. There are legal restrictions on the interest rates a money lender can set, based on your income. If you earn S$30,000 or less, for example, you can only be charged interest rates of 20% per annum on unsecured loans. 

That in itself should be considered a scam, since the most expensive bank loans seldom exceed 8% per annum.

So when moneylenders want to milk someone for more, they don’t do it though interest rates. Instead, they use late fees. The amount of these fees are not regulated, so it is possible to take out a S$400 loan, be late by a single day, and face a late fee of S$600, as this cleaner found out last year

So if you need a loan, never approach moneylenders. A personal loan from a bank is only 6 to 8% interest per annum, and there are even interest free promotions. You can find the best personal loan on with our comparison tools. 

3. The Wrong Delivery Scam
This is a variation of the “White Van Scam”, which has been going on for years. The scammer approaches your door with some kind of product, such as a TV, laptop, or tablet. They will act like they’re hot and tired, and ask for a glass of water. They’ll start a conversation about how they hate their boss, or how he always bullies them. Then they will ask you to sign for “your” product.

When you say it isn’t yours, they’ll say there was a mistake in the processing. But since you are so kind and they hate their boss, they’d rather just give it to you instead. Maybe you can just give them a bit of money in return for it? Even just S$200? It’s nothing compared to the value you’re getting.

Of course, you’ll find out after they leave that the “product” is a worthless plastic box with wires, which will never work. 

The elderly are often targeted by this scam, so you may want to let any seniors staying at home know about it.

4. The Gold Trading Scam
Although made notorious by the company Genneva Gold, the gold trading scam is still alive and in operation. The premise is simple: you buy a gold at a given price, say S$15,000. You will get regular interest pay-outs, perhaps 1.5% of the value of your investment each month. And at the end of a given number of years, the gold trader guarantees they will buy back the gold from you.

In reality, you are simply being sold gold bars for 30% above market value. So you’re not making any “returns” at all, you’re just getting back the price difference at a slow trickle. And should the gold trader close up and leave, you’re left holding onto gold that you can’t sell except at a loss. 

5. The Free Algorithm Scam
A black box, or trade algorithm, is a computer programme used by traders or financial institutions to buy and sell assets according to a set of rules. They are, in many cases, the results of multi-million dollar development efforts.

So it can be a surprise when someone offers you their trade algorithm for free. 

The idea is that you just run the algorithm, which will trade stocks or currency for you. For every winning trade, the developer of the algorithm will get a small cut. For every losing trade, the developer gets nothing. It seems like a fair deal.

Except scammers will create free algorithms that simply “churn” (make large numbers of trades without any proper reason). Out of 20 trades, perhaps one will win and the developer will make money. The other 19 losing trades don’t cost the developer anything, but they could wipe out your portfolio in a matter of days. 

In short: every time you win you pay the developer, but every time you lose it’s your own money. And you are almost guaranteed to lose, since the algorithm isn’t programmed to win. It’s just programmed to keep buying and selling, mostly at random, as often as possible. 

For more information on personal loans, click here.

This article is contributed by Allyson of

Monday, July 27, 2015

Are You Embracing Enough Contradictions Of Your Life?

Joss Whedon
I am a movie fan and like how Joss Whedon bring all the Marvels' superheros (including but not limited to Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye) into the international blockbuster franchise, The Avengers

No, I am not going to talk about movie today. What I am going to talk about is the inspiring commencement speech delivered by Joss Whedon in 2013 (at Wesleyan University). He talked the importance of seeing both sides to anything and everything. Like the saying goes, there is always two side of the coin, we need to look at both sides of it. 

Contradiction is what he is talking about! It could be between our mind and physical state e.g. your mind is asking you to go out and chiong but your body simply want to rest. Another example is that two roads diverged in the woods and you took the path less traveled, part of you is just going "Look at that path! Over there, it's much better, everyone if travelling on it."  

He believes that these contradictions and tensions are the greatest gifts that we have. We need to embrace it for two reasons:

1. It will never go away ;

2. We need to establish our identifies and beliefs by arguing ourselves down, or else, someone else will. 

Just like in stock investment, we are constantly dealing with contradicting parameters/news, whichever ways/options we choose, there is always opposite voice. There is no right or wrong answer, we just need to be aware of such other voices. The typical dilemma of retail investors is whether to follow TA (Technical Analysis) or FA (Fundamental Analysis) or both. Either way can makes or breaks your bank account and there is pros and cons in each of the approach. Again, follow your heart in adopting the approach closer to you and keep learning to make aware of the other voices. 

Lastly, I would like to leave with you the following inspirational quotes from Joss Whedon :

"You are going to change the world, because that is actually what the world is. You do not pass through this life, it passes through you. You experience it, you interpret it, you act and then it is different."

Let's change the world! Cheers!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

5 Clever Grocery Shopping Hacks to Save You Money (Guest Post)

Before you go off on your weekly grocery shopping trip, you just might want to learn how you can save some serious cash.

With Singapore topping the charts as the most expensive city in the world, it’s no wonder everyone is looking for that extra something that would help in cutting down their spending.

If you have a family, groceries are one of your biggest expenditures. We’re talking about food, toiletries, and cleaning products for the household… Those can easily add up to hundreds of dollars per trip.

And because you can’t go without visiting the supermarket every once in a while--unless you eat out all the time--being able to save money on grocery shopping would be very, very ideal.

Here are 5 hacks that will save you some money (and we’re not talking about couponing):

1. Make a shopping list and stick to it:
How many times have you been in the supermarket and forgot if you still have butter at home or not? And to play it safe, you buy a block of butter only to reach home and realise there are already two in the fridge waiting to expire.

Before you make a trip to the supermarket, look at your pantry and make a shopping list of what you’re lacking. Take inventory of what you need to stock up--only then should you visit your neighbourhood supermarket.

2. Better yet, shop online:
Supermarkets are designed to make you purchase more than you should, with their bright yellow signs that show buy-two-for-a-cheaper-price promotions. Even how candies and soft drinks are placed right near the counter is just another way to get you to buy more.

If you haven’t gotten much will-power, we’ll suggest that you avoid walking down the aisles of a supermarket altogether and buy what you need through e-commerce sites like Redmart. And as a bonus, you don’t have to lug your groceries home--instead, you’ll have them delivered to your doorstep.

3. Communicate with your family members:
What happens if you stick to your shopping list--maybe even order your groceries online--only to find out that your spouse or family member has bought another dozen eggs and a loaf of bread because they didn’t know you went grocery shopping?

Make sure you communicate clearly with the people you live with whose turn it is to buy groceries and what to add to the shopping list.

4. Use a cashback credit card:
Whether you have a big family or living by yourself, groceries can make a huge dent in your wallet. And seeing as they are essentials, you can’t exactly cut down so much on costs. But you can get cash rebates.

Cashback credit cards such as the American Express True Cashback Card give you cash rebates that you can offset in your next credit card bill. With this credit card, you will get 1.5% cashback on any purchases with no minimum spend and no cap on cash rebates (and if you’re a first time customer, you’ll get 5% cashback for the first three months).

How much can you save in a year with cashback credit cards?
Weekly Spending
Amex True Cashback Card Annual Cashback*
OCBC 365 Credit Card Annual Cashback**
UOB One Card Annual Cashback***
S$30 (first 12 weeks) + S$31.50 (subsequent weeks) = S$61.50
S$60 (first 12 weeks) + S$63 (subsequent weeks) = S$123
S$90 (first 12 weeks) + S$94.5 (subsequent weeks) = S$184.5
S$120 (first 12 weeks) + S$126 (subsequent weeks) = S$246

*If you’re a first time customer, get 5% cashback for first three months, 1.5% thereafter
**0.3% cashback under S$600, 3% cashback above S$600
***Min. spend of S$300 for 3 consecutive months to get S$30 quarterly, min. spend of S$800 for 3 consecutive months to get S$80 quarterly

Don’t apply for the first cashback credit card you see. If you live alone or have a smaller family and spend $100 or less weekly, the Amex True Cashback Card gives you the highest cash rebates in a year. But if you have a lot more mouths to feed, you’ll want to be looking at the OCBC 365 Credit Card.

Always compare credit cards in Singapore before you apply for them.

5. Visit a wet market instead:
Wet markets offer almost everything supermarkets do, but at a much lower price. From meat, poultry and fish to herbs, spices and grains, you can get your weekly grocery shopping done here for a cheaper price.

Most wet market are only open until noon, so get there as early as possible to have your pick of the lot.

For more money hacks, follow on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is contributed by Allyson of

Grab Car Promo : $15 off

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ant-Man - Reminded Me Of Singapore O & G

Ant man
Ant-man, the latest Marvel's comic adaptation blockbuster is tiny but huge. Tiny, as a superhero character but huge in terms of entertainment value as well as the box office sales. It tops the US Box Office with $57.2 millions. Not the best but still a commendable one. 

I am going to watch it only tomorrow but so far have been receiving rave review from friends and movie critics. So, I am pretty much looking forward to it. For some strange reason, the ant-man movie reminded me of the latest blockbuster IPO, Singapore O & G. Its IPO priced at SGD 0.25 and opened on 4th June 2015 with a whopping SGD 0.635 (which is 2.54 times the IPO price). Yesterday, it closes at SGD 0.790 (which is 3.16 times the IPO price). I think it is one of the best IPO performance in the recent years and it seems will continue to do well. 

Like Ant-man, many investors hope that the Singapore O & G will perform but still have some reservation initially (and quietly). Thanks God, the result speaks for itself. 

Have you watched the Ant-man? What is your review and it reminded you of which local stock? 


P/S: If you intend to watch Ant-man, do stay back for a while as there are two after-credit scenes, which I heard are quite good.   

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Interview With SK of Frugal Daddy

My next interviewee is a bit unique. Unique in the sense that I chatted with him (via private chat group) prior to this interview post and hence knew him a little bit more, as compared to other interviewees. So, I can be more candid about this post! Hehe.

He is non other than SK of Frugal Daddy. No, I am not talking about Seng Kang (SK), even though he stays near SK ;-) From the blog title, we can tell that  he is a daddy, a frugal one, no less. Besides, he is also a young daddy with big plan and end in sight.

Let's see what SK has to share with us on his investing journey.

Q1: Can you give us a brief introduction about yourself? 
A1 : I am working as a HR Professional. I hold a Bachelor of Commerce and a Specialist Diploma in Accounting and Finance. I have interest in personal finance and I enjoy writing about it in my free time.

I have clear goals in life, which is to have more personal time and choices in life. I am working towards it through financial independence by age 40.

Q2: Are you a full-time or part-time investor at the moment? 
A2: I’m a part-time investor.

Q3: When (at what age) did you start investing in shares and who has influenced you the most? 
A3 : I was 24 when I started investing. The person who influenced me is myself. When I started working, I realised we spend most of our awake time at work, and we need to put a meaning to it. I realised I am not living a life I want to. I am leading a life the society wanted me to.

Q4: Do you view yourself as long-term (holding shares in years), short-term investor (holding shares in days/months) or mixture?
A4 : I was a short-term investor. I am now going to be an long-term investor. 

Being an investor, I am investing in the business as a business partner. I was lucky that I have made a profit in short-term investing, but that was purely based on market sentiments and speculations. In the long run, I have an asset allocation strategy which I have talked about here:

Q5: What is your basis of selecting the shares to invest (e.g. basing on fundamental analysis, technical analysis or other methods/sources [share a little bit more details if it is the latter])?
A5 : I used fundamental, technical and ETF concepts. What is ETF concepts? It is to ride on general market sentiments as it tends to go higher in the longer terms.

For stock selections, I will based on fundamental analysis to ensure the business has a long term prospect and it is heading to the right directions. I will use chart (part of technical analysis) to visually understand the market sentiments for the stocks and what are the good entries points to buy and sell. 

Q6: What is your targeted and achieved annual rate of returns (%) so far? 
A6 : I am aiming to achieve 6% and I am achieving 5-6% dividends so far. 

Q7: What is your most recommended online investing resource (site or blog) to share with our readers?
A7 : I would recommend you to refer to It is a good one-stop read about finance matters by various bloggers. However, be mindful that different writers and articles advocate different investing strategies. Please refer them as learning points than decision-making. You will also get to read about money concepts and lifestyles thinking in this website that evolve around financial decisions.

Q8: Besides shares, what other investments are you involved in (e.g. Real Estates, Bonds or REITs etc)?
A8 : I have bonds-like instruments and a residential property. Other than that, it will be cash and shares, inclusive of REITs. 

Q9: What is your Portfolio Distribution like? 
A9 : 33% bonds, 6% equity , 61% cash. Please note that this is not an ideal asset allocation. I am looking for opportunity to buy more equity.

Q10 : If the readers what to get in touch with you, how to get hold of you? (Sharing of your website/blog/social media profile etc..) 
A10. If you are keen to walk this journey towards financial independence with me, you can read my blog at

Last but not least, if you are a retail investor and would like to be featured in my "Interview With The Fellow Investors" blog series, please feel free to email me at

Also, for the complete list of my interviewees and their posts, check it out here.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Expert Advice on How to Reduce Your Credit Card Debt (Guest Post)

You should avoid accumulating credit card debt, as the interest rate is high (24% per annum). However, the exact same interest rate makes paying down the cards difficult, and it can seem like the debt remains no matter how much money you throw it. 

Fortunately, banks offer a range of financial tools that you can use to lower the debt fast. Here’s how many people clear their credit card debts within a year or less:

1. Set Milestones for Total Debt Reduction
How long will give yourself to repay your entire credit card debt? In general, a debt equal to a month of your income should take about four months to pay off. However, if you feel you can handle the deprivation, aim to pay it off sooner. The longer things drag, the more interest you’ll be paying.

Once you have a time frame, set milestones for repayment. For example:
By month 1: Reduce debt to S$10,000
By month 2: Reduce debt to S$8,000
By month 3: Reduce debt to S$7,500 (smaller due to friend’s wedding ang pao)

And so on. Make a physical list of this, so you can tick off your goals as you reach them. A sense of achievement is important to keep you going.

2. Consider a Balance Transfer
A balance transfer is one of the most effective ways to deal with your credit card debt. In order to do this, you need to find a credit card with a 0% balance transfer option - this means that your debt will be transferred onto the new card, but will have a 0% interest rate for a fixed period (usually six months or one year).

As there is no compounding interest on your debt, you will be able to pay it down faster. However, you must have the discipline to not use any more credit until the debt is completely paid off (otherwise you will just have debt on two different cards).

You can use’s tools to compare balance transfer credit cards.

3. Use a Personal Loan to Lower the Interest Rate
A personal loan has a much lower interest rate than a credit card. This ranges from 6 to 8% per annum, as opposed to the credit card’s 24% per annum.

A simple way to lower your debt’s interest rate is thus to take out a personal loan, and use it to pay off your credit card debt. If you take the time to compare personal loans, you may find promotions with even lower rates.

4. Always Pay More than the Minimum
It takes forever to pay off your credit card debt by always paying the minimum, and by the end of 10 or 20 years (your debt will last that long with only minimum payments) you would have paid several hundred times your expenses in interest.

The credit card minimum payment is usually S$50, or 3% of the total debt, whichever is higher. Aim to exceed this amount by at least S$100 if you can.

5. Do Not Use Your Credit Card When Paying Down Debt
You will never pay down your debt if you are actively using your credit card. It is advisable to keep your card under lock and key while paying it down. At the AXS machine, input the card number manually so you don’t need it in your wallet.

6. Always Compare for Lowest Interest Rates before Applying for a Credit Card
With all the fancy rewards and cashback you get from spending with a credit card, it’s easy to forget to do a credit card comparison for the lowest interest rates. Don’t let the welcome gifts, air miles per dollar spend, and cashback percentages fool you.

At the end of the day, if you don’t pay for your credit card bill within the grace period, these rewards wouldn’t help you clear your debt.

This article is contributed by Allyson of

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Interview With Rohith Murthy Of

Finally, I managed to reach the small milestone of my "Interview With Peer Investors" series by hitting the 25th interviews. It took me 1 year and 4 months plus to reach it but it is well worth it. I learnt a lot just by going through the journey of my interviewees.

The 25th interviewee of mine is quite a special one, his name is Rohith Murthy, and ex-banker and owner of the, a platform that provides easy to digest comparison of the credit cards and personal loan features in Singapore. Even though it is not directly related to stock investment but savings and debts are key elements to the overall personal finance regime.

Without further ado, let's check out Rohith's investing journey thus far below. 


Q1: Can you give us a brief introduction about yourself? 
A1 : I’m a banker by trade, with more than 10 years’ experience industry. Prior to, I was Digital Banking head at Citibank for Central & Eastern Europe where I was responsible for various e-channels, including Internet, mobile, phone banking, ATMs and digitisation of branches for the bank.

I joined Citi in Singapore in 2003 and was part of the Asia Pacific Regional Operations and Technology team. 

I hold a degree in Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering (Honours) from National University of Singapore.

Q2: Are you a full-time or part-time investor at the moment? 
A2: I’m a part-time investor.

Q3: When (at what age) did you start investing in shares and who has influenced you the most? 
A3 : I was 23 when I became interested in investing. I would say I was influenced by Warren Buffet and Simon Nixon.

Q4: Do you view yourself as long-term (holding shares in years), short-term investor (holding shares in days/months) or mixture?
A4 : I am an investor, not a trader. To me there is a difference between the two, as trading is a high risk activity that requires a different mindset. Investing (buying, holding, and collecting dividends) is my “sleeping point”, as I prefer not to face the emotional ups and downs of trading. When I plan I have an investment horizon of about 15 to 20 years.

Q5: What is your basis of selecting the shares to invest (e.g. basing on fundamental analysis, technical analysis or other methods/sources [share a little bit more details if it is the latter])?
A5 : If I had to choose I would say I am more of a FA guy.

I am a big believer in ETFs, as they offer good diversification with very low fees. But I’ve also had my share of losses when I invested in high risk ETFs without proper analysis and understanding during the ‘08 crash. I do like the ST Index fund. When picking companies to invest in, I pay attention to the P/E ratio and D/E ratios in particular – especially in downturns, the D/E ratio is one of the first (though not only) indicators that a company is headed for trouble. 

Q6: What is your targeted and achieved annual rate of returns (%) so far? 
A6 : I believe that, for retirement planning, one should always aim to beat the rate of inflation by 2%. I typically aim for returns of at least 5 to 7%. So far I have been getting between 7 to 9%.

Q7: What is your most recommended online investing resource (site or blog) to share with our readers?
A7 : is a really great site if you want saving and budgeting tips, but if you want investing I’d say Motley Fool or Yahoo! Finance.

Q8: Besides shares, what other investments are you involved in (e.g. Real Estates, Bonds or REITs etc)?
A8 : I am a property investor, and have since found an opportunity during fire sale in ’08. I do invest in some REITs, like MapleTree.

Q9: What is your Portfolio Distribution like? 
A9 : 30% bonds, 60% equities, 10% cash

Q10 : If the readers what to get in touch with you, how to get hold of you? (Sharing of your website/blog/social media profile etc..) 
A10 : You can contact me through my email

Last but not least, if you are a retail investor and would like to be featured in my "Interview With The Fellow Investors" blog series, please feel free to email me at

Also, for the complete list of my interviewees and their posts, check it out here.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Property Tracker - Useful Tool To Track Your Home Value/Rental

Most of us own a property or two, if not, at least our parent do. Properties, being one of the largest investment for most of us, it would be interesting to see how the value/rental of our property trending over the years. 

Today, I am lucky to chance upon a property portal (via My Paper) providing such service (and many more cool features) for free. What I am talking about is the My Property Tracker. Besides its sleek user interface, following are some of the key features which are very informative and useful, most importantly, they are presented in graphical format which is pleasing for the eyes :

1. Provide a snapshot of the Sale (they called it Sale X-Value) and Rental (they called it Rent X-Value) of your unit as well as it's 30 days upwards/downwards trend:
My Property Tracker
Snapshot of the Sale and Rental Value of your unit
My Property Tracker
The 30-days changes, Highest and Lowest Sale Value
2. Presenting the historical value and rental of your unit in a chart form (similar to the stock price chart that most of us are very familiar with):
My Property Tracker
The Historical Sale and Rental Charts that I like the most

3. Estimated Rental Yield:
Rental Yield - Coupled with the formula and explanation
4. Tracking of the transactions nearby your unit (can't share much on this yet as I've yet to unlock this feature).

I find this tool is very useful and since it is free, no harm knowing more about the property value in the current market as I am sure such information will come in handy when we are making a sale/rent decision in the future. 

If you are interested to find out more about your property too, click here to sign-up the service for FREE.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hair For Hope - My Third Take

Hair For Hope 2015
My company's mission is build on two equal pillars, one is "Do Good" and the other is "Do Well". Do Good means provide assistance to the society in general (especially those less privileged), while Do Well is on the business sustainability. Both are equally important from company perspective, if I apply the same pillars in life and need to choose one over the other, my choice is definitely DO GOOD!

Talking about doing good, in 3 weeks' time, I will be participating in the yearly Hair For Hope event at Vivocity, for the third time. The reason why I continue this meaningful cause for three straight years for two reasons :

1. The beneficiary of this annual fundraising event is Children's Cancer Foundation. To me, kids are our future and every kids deserved a second chance to grow up, thus, hopefully I can do my part to facilitate their second chance. 

2. The reason why we shave the head is to put ourselves in the shoe of the kiddos when they are going through the chemo and experiencing hair-loss situation. The difference is : ours is temporary and theirs is permanent. This is nothing new to me anymore but it is still a meaningful experience to remind ourselves to face life heads on, with or without hair.  

With this, I would like to seek support from the readers of my blog to support me (or rather the kiddos) by donating any amount to Hair For Hope directly or through my profile here.

On behalf of the kiddos, THANK YOU!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Recap Of My First Half Of 2015

Time flies, we are already half-way through the year in 2015 and soon we will be celebrating Christmas for 2015 and then 2016 and beyond. Time wait for nobody and since we can't save/deposit it like money, we just need to use it wisely.

It is about time to recap what I've done in the first half of the year, in general. Recently has been busier with work/project and hence has less time to blog but I will still try to squeeze sometime for sharing my thought here. 

So, without further ado, let's do a quick one here:

A. On My Blog :
My blog has crossed the 200,000 Pageviews mark, 217,034 to be exact (at the time of writing), with 632 posts so far. With the average of 340 plus pageviews per post, I am quite happy with the result (you see, I am easily contented man ;-)) 

B. On My Investment
So far, my minion size portfolio is giving me an unrealized loss of 20%. The main contributor (or should I said culprit) is Super Group (S10). Well, my motto is Keep Calm, Keep Going and Keep Smiling, regardless.  

C. On My "Do Good" Spectrum
I think besides focusing on doing well (financially and career wise), it is equally important to "Do Good". Here are some of my proud achievement :

1. Gotten a 10th blood donation medal (first meaningful medal that I am really proud of)

2. Participated twice in volunteering work (organised by Project Awareness), simple gesture but plenty of fulfillment.

3. Up next : getting botak (bald) in Hair For Hope 2015 charity event (July).

How about you? How is your first half of 2015 like?  


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